Sunday, August 31, 2008

Spring, Truth and Allegory

My weekends haven't gone well lately; even ones with promise have taken unexpected dives. This weekend bucked that trend and is hopefully a start of something new.

I had planned to go on a road trip by myself. Before the morning of departure all I had in mind was to go to Rotorua for a hot spring and then onto Taupo to stay over at a friend's. Going down, I sighted a familiar mountain, one that I had wanted to climb but had been prevented by weather. It seduced me (I just love mountains looming over highways). So the hot springs had to take a backseat as made a sharp turn and zoomed off to the cute town of Te Aroha, and its distinctive toponymically named mountain.

I rocketed up with my usual gusto, but two-thirds of the way up I was hit by either my lack of fitness or the difficulty of the ascent. I struggled a little and eventually summitted (a quick time of 1 hour 40 minutes). The view was outstanding. Standing on the Kaimai-Mamaku ranges means you can see the whole Bay of Plenty, the East Coast and the Hauraki Plains (and if weather had been better, the central plateau mountains). I saw the most ragged possum ever, which stared at me then ran. I felt compelled to complete the loop that the summit track was but a section. I couldn't find the sign for it; perhaps it was down a metal road. I descended the road for about 10 minutes but there was still no sign. This is a fairly common walkers experience: Do I continue with the route or cut my loses to avoid complete disaster? I chose the latter, but coming out of it, retracing my steps back to the summit was horrible but then it was a simple route to the base and freedom. I saw the same ragged possum, which stared at me and ran. So back down the summit track I went. Later I heard that if I had persisted down the metal road I'd have gotten to the trackhead soon.

I thought on the way down that all of the above could be an allegory for life. But the themes will always enmesh our lives to be learnt from if we desire. Or not, perhaps to our detriment.

Now boy-racers enjoy their needs for speed and danger by hurtling themselves in metal missiles down suburban streets. The tramper version of this is superior. Running down mountain tracks is the most exhilarating experience you can have tramping. Your eyes are fixed on the path searching for the safe places for your feet. You swing on branches. You jump over obstacles and duck low hanging branches. Of course there is always a risk you'll miscalculate and it could be your end or at least a chance of serious injury - but at least it isn't like the thick-skulled boy-racers who often imperil the lives of others.

I emerged at the bottom and the dashed over to my car. Unfortunately the adrenalin was still in my veins and on the way to Taupo was usually over the speed limit. Bad Daniel. Arriving, I discussed my topic of the year: Relationships and love. Later we played board games - it has been quite some time since I had.

The next day I did some things for the first time: abseiling and rockclimbing. The former I'm yet to really accept and the latter I'm getting the hang of - mainly that my mind has trouble accepting that it has to give confidence in the physical attributes of things out of faith: The foothold will hold. My leg can go to the groove. The shoes won't slip.
One thing I had faith in that didn't live up to expectation was the crotch of my pants, which must have given up during some of the climbs I did. I only climbed up the steep face three times but I am satisfied. I might try the rocknasium sometime.

Heading back, I trusted the directions given to me by one of my rock-climbing companions. "Take the left at the next T-junction, then right at the next one. Then there will be a sharp left and then a sharp right and then you'll be in Kihikihi" To a townie like me, that sounds like a piece of cake. Like where to walk to find a shop. But of the four directions given, getting to the first junction took an hour, the second another 40 minutes, the third 30 minutes and then the fourth 1 minute. It is strange how the briefness of the directions didn't represent the distance I'd be covering. But I trusted them and I was delivered to Kihikihi, a perfect example of how a suburban town should look.

I returned home to Auckland. The joy of my new location means I can shoot up the motorway and then from off-ramp to carpark takes only a minute. This is going to suck of course when I need to get back in rush-hour, but that is for another day.

"It's warmer now." I hope this weekend is a nice marker for the beginning of Spring, even if I do generally wait for the Equinox to celestially indicate its arrival. May this winter be buried post-haste.

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